Washington Issues Emergency Rule on Heat-Related Illness

June 1, 2007

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has issued an emergency rule, requiring employers to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness for anyone working outdoors in hot weather.

This is the second summer in a row that L&I has adopted the emergency rule, which takes effect June 5.

Employers must:
*Establish and implement written procedures to prevent heat-related illness.
*Provide and make accessible enough drinking water so that on days when employees are exposed to the hazards of heat-related illness, each employee can drink at least one quart of water per hour.
*Have procedures in place to respond to employees who are experiencing or showing signs of heat-related illness.
*Provide effective heat-related-illness prevention training to employees and supervisors.

Working outdoors in hot weather can put employees at risk for heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, L&I said. Heat-related illness is a serious health condition that can cause disability and death.

“Heat stress is a serious concern,” said Steve Cant, assistant director for L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Discussions on the need for an outdoor-heat rule in Washington began in 2005 after an agriculture worker died from heat stroke, and L&I recognized that existing regulations did not adequately protect employees working outdoors in hot weather. Then in July 2006, a construction laborer died after laying pipe in a trench during 100-degree weather.

A permanent rule will be adopted in early 2008, L&I said. The Department will develop a small-business economic impact statement and will hold public hearings around the state so that all who are interested have an opportunity to participate.

For more information on workshops and training materials for preventing heat-related illness, visit www.LNI.wa.gov/safety/topics/AtoZ/heatstress.

Source: L&I

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